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On the simplest level, John must learn to read to carry the plot forward. He could have learned to read through almost any text, so it's interesting to note that Huxley chose Shakespeare. Shakespeare presents a wide range of human emotions, most of which are either surpressed or treated as evil in BNW. Huxley wants to contrast the two cultures; just importing someone from the Reservation would not have provided him with the opportunity, so he created a Savage that could read Shakespeare and, though reading, understand the emotions contained therein. It's a bit of a stretch, but so is the rest of the book if you treat it as literal.
It might be interesting for you to check out the books that Mond keeps ... these also must be there for the discussion to develop.
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